Working with LGBTQ+ Youth: This interactive workshop will offer participants the opportunity to discuss the ways in which we can effectively minister to LGBTQ+ youth. Recognizing that traditional language employed within the church can be off-putting, or even triggering for LGBTQ youth, we are faced with the challenge of creatively defining sacred space. This challenge often takes us beyond the walls of the church into secular spaces, giving us a vision of the ways in which we are continually being reformed.
Conversation will focus on a practical approach to ministry among LGBTQ+ youth. Acknowledging that we often learn best when part of a community, come ready to listen and to share your successes, short-comings, fears, and goals.
Jessica Rathbun-Cook is a candidate for ministry in the PC(USA) and is the Youth Programs Director at ROSMY, an organization in Richmond, VA, serving LGBTQ+ youth. A native of East Texas, Jessica has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas and a Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond.
Jessica has been on staff as the Youth Programs Director since 2013, after serving as ROSMY’s first seminary intern, while in their final year at UPSem. As the only organization of its kind in Central Virginia, ROSMY’s approach to youth programming is pretty straightforward: create a space where young people can safely articulate who they are, give them the opportunity to explore that identity, and celebrate the diversity of personalities that make a community unique. Every day the cinder-block building that houses the organization becomes a sacred space where lives are transformed through conversations that offer the youth something that many of them cannot find anywhere else: the opportunity to belong.
Jessica loves writing liturgy, participating in the sacraments, and thinking about sacred space. They are drawn to conversations about the gap between the “queer” world and the “church” world (including why that gap exists), and are deeply invested in ways we might create spaces where those worlds overlap. This spring, Jessica had the opportunity to talk about both ROSMY and the PC(USA) at TEDxRVA.
Supporting and Calling LGBTQ Pastors After 10A: For four years, Presbyterian polity has allowed LGBTQ pastors to be called to serve openly. But few congregations have called these pastors and committees are still ill-equipped to support them. For a decade Parity has served this community and over the last year we undertook an ambitious project to survey, record, and share the nuanced experiences LGBTQ folks deal with as they navigate the process of ordination and being called as pastors. We’ll share what we discovered, covering the topics of being used, the closet, our hopes and joys, and more through direct quotes and common themes. Now is the time to equip yourself and your congregation to live into the new era our more inclusive ordination standards allow!
Rev. John Russell Stanger is a pastor, public speaker, writer and advocate for the gifts of LGBTQ Christians in the life of the Church. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Parity, working to create a world where gender and sexual identity are not barriers for living the lives we are called to by God. Under his leadership, Parity became the first mainline protestant LGBTQ rights organization to transition from a focus on denominational policy to engagement with the broader culture. As one of the youngest leaders of a faith-based LGBTQ rights organization, he has pioneered programs for youth in New York City and expanded Parity’s Emerging Pastors retreat. Rev. Stanger brings a pastoral approach to non-profit leadership that derives from his experience working in many different cultural contexts ranging from his upbringing on a Texas cattle ranch to a year in rural India with the Presbyterian Church’s Young Adult Volunteer Program. Out of Order, an upcoming feature-length documentary of LGBTQ leaders challenging anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), features him and his family’s story as he continues to fight within his own denomination for transformative inclusivity. He also serves on the board of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project and holds a Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where upon graduation he was awarded the prestigious Pile Morgan Fellowship.
Enacting Intersectional Justice by Displacing Whiteness — We will be addressing what it means to displace whiteness and build authentic relationships across intersections that have the potential to enact radical social change. We will ask questions like: How do we disrupt and resist Empire together? How do we check our own privileged assumptions? How do we create brave spaces where we can speak into a space with the tools we have, trust that we can and will let each other know when those tools are not enough or not working, and be ready and willing to be held accountable? This session is not about zenophobia, but it is about resisting imperialism; this session is not just about addressing white privilege, but it is about resisting the logic of white supremacy; this session is not about class discrimination, it is about resisting capitalism; this session is not about addressing heterosexism, it is about resisting hetero-patriachry.
Jay Yoder is a social justice, undoing oppression, nonviolence, queer feminist community organizer/activist, educator, currently as the Communications & Engagement Director for Christian Peacemaker Teams. Jennifer’s previous roles include Victim Services Coordinator for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Field Director for the Universal Health Care Action Network in Columbus, OH. In 2008 Jennifer co-founded Pink Menno, a movement for LGBTQIA2S welcome and liberation in Mennonite Church USA. Jennifer is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA.
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD is a queer Latin@ who negotiates layers of agnosticism as their faith orientation. Believing that the ways of Jesus are tangible ways of enacting radical social change, Robyn strategically deploys theologies and ethics of radical difference to disrupt the hegemonic structures that reproduce multi-system oppressions. As an anti-oppression, anti-racist, Trans*gressive genderqueer, Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist theologian and ethicist to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns.
See Get Disrupting for more information
Gracious Conversations when we disagree: Why and How
While PCUSA policy change for LGBT inclusion is complete, we know there are still many Presbyterians who disagree us and many LGBT people still in harm’s way in our churches. Gracious conversation with those who hold views different from ours is the proven means of touching contrary minds and hearts. This workshop will inspire us to seek out these conversations and equip us for them. By them, we build relationships that help make the church the Beloved Community we so yearn for.
Rev. Janet Edwards, Ph.D. has been a Teaching Elder in Pittsburgh, PA for 37 years. In her conservative presbytery, she has long experience in gracious conversation with those who disagree with her, particularly in connection with being tried twice by the presbytery Permanent Judicial Commission for violating Scripture when she presided at the wedding of two women in 2005. She has served on the More Light board and is a trainer for the National LGBTQ Taskforce’s Building an Inclusive Church program.